Elon Musk says he will find a new CEO for Twitter after users voted him out. But who would be, in their own words, “crazy enough to take the job”?
This is a question I’ve been asking in my talks over the past week. Based on my checks with people in the know, it doesn’t look like Musk has launched an official search yet. And given his propensity to lie and go back on his word, he might not try to find someone. The case is complicated by the fact that he said that even if a CEO is found, he will continue to lead the “software and server teams”. This is basically the whole business.
For what it’s worth, I think Musk will find a CEO, not only because he told his investors on Twitter he would, but also because it’s the logical thing for him to do. Below are the names that have been suggested to me as good candidates that Musk should really hand over the reins of Twitter to. (I’m not including the obvious members of Musk’s transition team who helped him in the early days of the hiring – namely David Sacks, Jason Calacanis and Sriram Krishnan – because from what I’ve read they wouldn’t accept the position if asked).
Sheryl Sandberg, ex-CoO of Meta
Pros: This choice is probably the most obvious, especially if Musk does what he says and continues to lead engineering at Twitter after the appointment of a new CEO. Sandberg has the reputation with advertisers and the connections Musk needs to begin turning Twitter’s business around. And he is a free agent after leaving the Meta last year.
Cons: Musk is not a fan of Facebook, and I don’t think they will get along. Sandberg also seems happy to focus on her philanthropy and family life these days.
Emmett Shear, co-founder and CEO of Twitch
Pros: Emmett Shear wasn’t on my list of possible names before I started looking around, but I’m getting used to the idea. As the co-founder and current head of Twitch, he successfully sold a social media company to a tech giant and has the experience Musk needs for his plan to turn Twitter into a video platform for creators. Also, I’ve heard that the Twitch organization has been in complete disarray lately.
Cons: He’s never run a public company, and Musk plans to bring Twitter back to the public markets within a few years. And Twitch has failed to grow outside of its core niche of gamer livestreams.
Vanessa Pappas, COO of TikTok
Strengths: He has the experience Musk needs, having first helped set up YouTube’s first creative program and most recently served as Tik Tok’s COO. I’ve also heard rumors that he plans to leave TikTok/ByteDance later this year.
Cons: If Musk was primarily looking for someone known to big advertisers to run Twitter, he wouldn’t be the first choice because he’s primarily focused on product and creators.
Jim Lanzone, CEO of Yahoo
Pros: Lanzone has more of a background in media and advertising, aside from his brief stint as CEO of Tinder. He currently runs Yahoo, but may jump at the opportunity. He has the connections in the advertising community and the operational experience that Musk and the constitution can use to deal with Musk’s antics.
Cons: Not sure if he wants to work for Musk and handle the Twitter puzzle now.
Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram
The pros: In terms of pedigree and product chops, the Instagram co-founder and former CEO is definitely a top pick. He’s been low-key since quitting Instagram/Facebook in 2018 after clashing with Mark Zuckerberg, though he’s shown interest in the TikTok model of social media – churning out recommendations in the social graph’s in-feed. someone – on Lex Fridman’s podcast last year. This is exactly what Musk wants Twitter to focus on as well.
Cons: He once worked for a stubborn founder/CEO, made a lot of money, and probably doesn’t want to start over. He also doesn’t have the level of influence in the advertising community that Musk is likely seeking.
Honorable mentions go to: Adam Bain, Susan Wojcicki, Sarah Friar, Kayvon Beykpour and Kevin Weil. Have I forgotten anything else? Let me know…